I thought today I’d write a bit of a more personal post.
Some of you that don’t know me very well may not know that I am actually Brazilian. I was born in Curitiba and lived in Colombo (a small town near Curitiba) until I was 9 years old. And today, I want to write about the place I’m from.
Whenever people think of Brazil they think of 6 things; Carnival, football, drugs, Rio de Janeiro, violence and poverty.
I was very fortunate, despite of a few problems; I always had everything that I needed. I even attended private school for the majority of the time that I was there. My family always tried their best to give me and my little sister the best lifestyle possible. However, not everyone there is so fortunate. Yes, in Brazil there are many slums or favelas, but no, they aren’t all full of drug dealers who carry massive guns and kill everyone. The favelas there are the home of the poor. One of the luxuries that people in first world countries have, that they actually don’t realise that they have, is shelters, council housing, half-way houses and government help. In Brazil, it is a lot harder to get help for this kind of things from the government – so people go and make themselves homes in the favelas. No, it’s not the luxurious kind of homes that we get here, but it’s a shelter they build for themselves and their families – it’s a home.
Drugs is a big problem in Brazil – but isn’t drugs a big problem in most countries? I think the reason why drugs is highlighted more in Brazil than in other places, is because of the violence in Brazil. Crime is a big problem in Brazil, one that is facilitated by the corruption of the country. I don’t like admitting it, but there is corruption everywhere in Brazil. The police in Brazil are one of the key culprits. I’m not saying that they are all corrupt in Brazil, however, a lot of them are. Some of the police in Brazil are like the Brazilian version of the Old Italian mafia. Yes, that’s a suitable comparison. And the people, well, a majority of the low level criminals are to poor, the people who don’t have enough money to feed their families – so they result to a life of crime, whether its theft, drug dealing or even murder. Even though crime is such a problem in Brazil, most of the people that I met in my time in Brazil are some of the loveliest and most welcoming people that you will ever meet. But just like people anywhere else in the world, they are susceptible to the environment around them, an environment that isn’t always the most pleasant.
The Carnival is a beautiful event. I unfortunately never got the chance to actually go to one myself as I was quite young at the time I left Brazil and I’ve only been back once since. But I remember that every year, I would always sit and watch the live TV coverage of it. I was always so amazed at all of the colours and the grandiosity of it. The nearly nude females always slightly confused me, as I didn’t fully understand their lack of clothing, but there, it doesn’t matter – it’s all art and entertainment. It is a way of appreciating the female form, and all of the beauty in it. They showcase the best samba dancers and musicians in the world. Some people may say that it can vulgar to show so much flesh and sexuality, but I believe that those are just opinions of a prudish nature.
The football in Brazil is more than just a sport – it’s an escape. A lot of the parents don’t always have the money to go and buy their children expensive gaming consoles to keep their children occupied, so a lot of the children play football. I always remember how children and teenagers would always go and play football in fields, on the street – anywhere they could really. It’s something that brought them together, something they had fun doing and that kept them occupied. And when a majority of the children in the country do this from a young age, you can definitely see why they have so much talent.
Rio de Janeiro is indeed a beautiful place. I had the pleasure of going there last time that I visited Brazil back in 2012. And regardless of what people think, Rio isn’t full of drug dealers running around with massive guns and killing people. Yes, you don’t want to go around stirring trouble or anything like that, as you may encounter some unsavoury characters, but the chances of you getting killed or anything like that are pretty slim. The chances of you getting mugged however are a bit higher. But then again, you can get mugged anywhere else in the world.
Although Rio is indeed beautiful, there are a lot more places in Brazil that are also beautiful but don’t receive as much tourism, that in my opinion, they should. There are things such as ‘pesque pague’, one of the places that I remember the most from my childhood. These places are places designed for fishing – some even have small aquatic parks within them. But talking on a bigger scale, there is a vast amount of beautiful cities and places in Brazil, not just Rio. The city that I was born, Curitiba, for example, it is sometimes referred to as a piece of Europe within Brazil – mostly because of how advanced the city is and its multiculturalism. But even though that city is referred to in that way, there is always a Brazilian feel to the city, regardless how much multiculturalism there is there.
When I think about it, I do miss Brazil sometimes. I miss my family, I miss all the familiar faces, all the familiar places, the warmth of the people, the amazing food (which I honestly think is underrated abroad – maybe you should try it sometime, I can guarantee that you won’t regret it!) – I just miss everything in general about it really. But then I stop and think to myself, after living abroad so many years, could I get used to it all again? Yes, it would be great to have all of those things that I miss, but what about the things that I don’t miss? While living abroad, you get accustomed to a certain lifestyle, you take for granted the fairness that the country promotes, you take for granted all of support that you can actually receive from that country in case you need it. But what about if I went back to Brazil? Could I get used to the inequality of the place? The social gaps, the corruption, the lack of law and order? I don’t think I could. I watch the Brazilian news every day, I see teachers and public servants constantly on strike, I see crime after crime, I see a report of the police gunning down an innocent person or using brutal force against protesters. What happened to freedom of speech? What happened to equality? What happened to human rights?
And its thoughts like that that keeps me from going back. I love my country, I am proud of where I’m from, I love my family, but I am at times astounded by lack of ambition and determination of a lot of the people. After all of the protests worldwide last year because of the world cup – what happened? Nothing. There is no perseverance there. But then again can you blame them for giving up? When the armed forces were sent out on the streets to ‘take care’ of the problem?
My mother and my family have devoted their lives to make sure that me and my sister had the best chances in life and they realised that those chances, most likely wouldn’t be in Brazil, so we left Brazil. We came to England on June 2006 to have a better life, And in those years I’ve spent here, I have learnt a great deal of things, one of them is being able to appreciate what I have (though I don’t always show this appreciation). But who knows, maybe one day I’ll go back, but judging by how the country is going at the moment, that won’t be any time soon (apart from an occasional holiday to see my family).